Susanne connecting this week over events in their lives this past week. Come join us with no judgment. We are holding space to learn, laugh, and downright pointe at ourselves.
Watch the episode here:
Coffee chat with Susanne | Time for the next chapter.
The structure in ballet companies
I want to talk about something that I came across on LinkedIn. It was a question from a coach that asked the question, What do you think about the structure that we have put in place in ballet companies in terms of how corps, soloists, and principals and up the ring are getting paid? Is that actually a helpful incentive for people to rise to their best potential or is it hindering people? Is it actually something that nowadays is still applicable to how we run companies? Is that something that is helpful or is it in a way? I’ve been sitting on this for I don’t know how long because I don’t think it is really helpful the way it is set up right now.
Let me tell you why. Because some people simply don’t want to be soloists or principals. They are happy with being corps dancers. They are fulfilled with being in the corps. Now, should they be really penalized for that financially? Like should they be on the same salary 20 years long and make less than a junior soloists or principal dancer? I don’t think so. I don’t think it really entices people to stay with companies. It really doesn’t entice people to give their best to grow with a company even know that they’re not being maybe perhaps interested going through the ranks, but they’re interested in being the good solid foundation every company needs and really appreciates and leans on every single day in a studio and on stage. Why should they not be really reimbursed for the energy that they’re putting out? Why should they not be valued more by the time they’re putting in?
There is a lot that we can explore over the next couple of years in terms of how companies are set up in pay structure and hierarchy, and you only get this when you do this. There’s another thing that I wanted to just insert here as food for thought. I don’t know if you have seen the tweeting along with Elon Musk and the World Food Organization or World Hunger Organization as part of the UN claiming that with $6 billion, they can solve world hunger, which turned out not to be the truth. However, that opened up a little bit of a rabbit hole in terms of what people in these non-for-profit organizations are actually getting paid. And their CEO C-level executives that get half a million a year. If they’re doing the work and if they’re bringing it in, well-deserved. Well done. But what dawned on me is that directors, artistic directors in A-level ballet companies make more than that. They make more than that with a lower level of funds that are being raised every year. I don’t get it.
I don’t understand why artistic directors make more than organizations that solve such a huge problem, A, and, B, why, if we are really valuing a director and performing arts that high, then why are we not valuing the people that are actually creating that art on that same level? Why are they starting out with 75,000 a year in a major city like New York City where they can hardly even pay for an apartment for themselves. They can’t invest in themselves. They can’t really do anything besides really just surviving versus thriving. That’s not what we really want to do. That’s not what artists are actually needed. They need to thrive. They need to be free of all of these boundaries in order to create, but yet we’re creating these boundaries to not have them be creative as much as they can be. That just doesn’t make sense. I think, particularly in a situation, it’s completely broken.
A potential solution
Now, let me pivot a little bit and tell you what I’ve been up to over the past year now. You’ve heard me talk about money and artists’ organization over and over again. You’ve heard me talk about the starving artist’s mentality. You’ve heard me talk about questioning the current business structure that we have lately in performing arts organizations. The more and more I dug into this, the more and more I felt that there could be a solution. The more I asked the question, what could the solution be, the more I found a way for us to tap into this and really create an example how performing artists can thrive, how performing arts organizations, perhaps, wouldn’t have to rely on donations all the way depending on how they’re actually being committed to serving the audience versus serving the ego. So here’s what I came up to.
I know most of you know these platforms that, Buy Me a Coffee or Patreon, etc., and they’re great. They are absolutely great. I wish I would have thought of that a little sooner. And when I started reading reviews and when I started having conversations, there was a lot of pushback from our performing artists and saying, oh, it’s too complicated. And there’s so many people on there, giving me all the excuses on why they’re not on there to produce an extra income. So I asked a different question. So how can we make that easier? How could this look, easier, less frictionless, less involved, but yet, having a bigger return of their investment timewise? And really, truly accelerate the path to sustainability and financial freedom in the performing arts for everybody. And this is how R.I.S.E Media was born. Rise is just standing for Reimagine Sustainable Entertainment. How can we turn performing arts into a sustainable model that people actually can have a living in there? They don’t need to have two other jobs where they trade time for their money. I think that is important. I really want it to be something where performing artists literally just use their content in order to make money, that companies stop giving away their content over and over and over again and earn their 0.02 cents per 1000 views on TikTok or on YouTube, and maybe are lucky enough to tap in some ad spend or into advertisement. Like how can we make this bigger for a broader collective so that you don’t have to be a Misty Copeland in order to have all of these opportunities. How can you create these opportunities for yourself? How can we tap into the media and advertisement for performing arts organizations all together from your first level corps member or even apprentice to your principal or even artistic director. How can we all work together for a common goal. I believe that is where R.I.S.E Media is really wanting to go and setting an example of this.
R.I.S.E Media crowdfunding campaign
We need to take a step back and understand that if we continue this way, we’re not going to see another 100 years of performing arts. So R.I.S.E Media is really in its infancy state. It was born out of an idea, and it’s become quite large in his vision. We’re launching a crowdfunding campaign on November 9 which, by the way, can I just say how serendipitous this state is. Any Germans and East Germans listen to this November 9, 1989, was when the wall came down, and the wall was standing dividing the communist country from the bad capitalist country, but it also basically told us what to do when and how to think all the time and we weren’t allowed to travel, etc., read up on history, if you don’t know what I’m referring to. It was the beginning of something that I wanted my entire life. I was so fearful of not being able to go where I wanted to go when I was growing up.
For this campaign to actually launch on November 9, it means so much more than just a day for me. For me, it’s like taking down another wall of beliefs that we have and stigmas and old ways of doing that perhaps we can build a completely different way of doing performing arts or a different way of how people are actually going to come and see us, a different way of how we can bring the arts to other people. There’s so much to be solved. I am tickled with excitement to have everyone that is interested in really being a part of this.
What’s Next from Pointe to Rise
What is going to happen over the next month and a half, two months until the new year? We will be pulling out different material of all the episodes that we have launched so far. We are going to take a break. There will not be new episodes coming out. However, I will be live on that Pointe to Rise page. I don’t want to commit to every day, but it’s definitely calling me, it is pulling me, and I’m telling you it’s probably going to happen, because that’s what I feel would be the right thing to just show up and tell you how I feel and what I’m doing and how we’re moving forward with everything.
I know Nutcracker is coming in, I know Thanksgiving is standing in front of your door. I remember very vividly how I felt in my one year that I did Nutcracker in the United States. I am sending you so much love and I’m telling you that you do not have to be tired all the time. You don’t have to feel exhausted and empty all the time. You have options and it’s a matter of you being open to really seeing, hearing, and dipping into these options.
Okay, we’re sending you so much love. Thank you for being here. Thank you for always listening and till next time.
So much ❤ Susanne
The next chapter begins here Re-Imagine Sustainable Entertainment Media